Teesside MPs Tom Blenkinsop and Anna Turley, yesterday led a debate on the future of the UK steel industry in parliament.
During the debate, which they secured, Tom and Anna raised a number of issues from the challenge of Chinese steel dumping to future of the former SSI site in Redcar.
The debate was well attended by members from a variety of different parties.
I am glad members from across the house were given the opportunity to push the government again on this issue.
Just because steel has fallen down the news agenda doesn’t mean the industry has overcome the challenges it was facing only a few months ago. The government needs to act on Chinese steel dumping, access to European markets, energy costs and to support innovation in the sector.
Specifically, several MPs called for the creation of a Materials Catapult to boost research and development in the sector.
Chris McDonald, Chief Executive of the Materials Processing Institute, said:
The steel debate has highlighted the importance of continued innovation-support for the future of the UK steel industry, through the development of a Materials Catapult in the region, to keep UK manufactures on the front foot in responding to the international market.
The North East has a proud and prestigious history of steelmaking and has built extensive expertise in production and processes. The Materials Processing Institute continues to develop and share this expertise with international steelmakers, which would be bolstered by the creation of a Materials Catapult.
Anna’s speech focused on the inaction of the government during the SSI closure and the fact the site was now currently in limbo.
Anna, MP for Redcar, said:
I took the opportunity again today to raise the deadlock around the future of the former SSI site with the Minister. The site is stuck in faraway wrangles between the official receiver and faceless banks in South East Asia and there are no signs of progress. I have met with serious potential investors who are looking very closely at Teesside and are attracted by the key strengths we have but we need the site to be liberated. The businesses of Teesside are ready to rebuild, invest, regenerate and bring much needed jobs to our area but not being able to redevelop the steelworks site is a big stumbling block.
In response to the debate, Nick Hurd, the Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry, denied the government was not acting to solve the crisis which continues to embroil the steel industry and reiterated their commitment to securing the future of UK steel.